HANNIBAL, Mo. (AP) They could be called "God's Squad." They're not Hell's Angels, but Heaven's Angels on wheels, riding into a world situated at two crossroads, motorcycle gangs and spirit-filled Christianity.
Roaring down the highway, members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association reach out in fellowship to Christians who have a desire to do more than just own and ride a motorcycle, but be involved in every aspect of the biking world while spreading the word of Jesus.
"The Mississippi Valley Spoke-In-Word was formed two years ago," said Noah Clatt, president of the group. "One of our purposes is to give motorcyclists a better image and change people's views. Not all motorcyclists are bad. A lot of bikers go to church and to rallies."
The group shares fellowship from all backgrounds. Members are involved in many kinds of ministries, taking the Gospel to different people, which may include prison ministry and youth work, but the main aim is to reach motorcyclists.
"We have approximately 40 members," said Connie Clatt, newsletter editor and events coordinator for the local group. "It doesn't matter what church, just that you want to believe. It's a service ministry where we serve in a lot of different ways."
The group's mission is to encourage and conduct, among motorcyclists, public worship, ministry and Christian Evangelist Crusades. They also want to encourage Christian fellowship and improving the stereotypical bad-boy behavior and image of people who ride motorcycles.
"At the bigger rallies we will baby-sit the kids to keep them out of that environment," Noah Clatt said. "We clean up after the bikers, picking up trash and cleaning restrooms. The reason we go to rallies is we want to show bikers that they can have a good time without doing alcohol and drugs."
Other community projects include speaking at church and Bible youth groups, working on Athletes Day for the mentally disabled, visiting the elderly at nursing homes, youth camps and ministering to inmates in prisons.
Herb Shreve founded the ministry in 1975, when he sensed the need for someone to go to motorcycle events and share his faith. Little did he realize that this step was the beginning of an organization that now has over 117,000 members in more than 400 chapters across the United States.
The Clatts are former foster parents and have ridden motorcycles for 30 years.
"After being in foster care for 16 years, we wanted to do something different," Connie Clatt said. "CMA has really changed my life personally. I'm having a wonderful time."
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